Gotham, ‘The Demon’s Head’ is the Best Episode of an Okay Season

Alexander Siddig in Demon's Head episode of Gotham
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX.

Gotham, ‘Demon’s Head’ Plot Summary:

As Bruce (David Mazouz) tries to learn more about the mysterious knife Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) seeks, it only puts him and others in grave danger.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) is suspicious of Sofia Falcone’s (Crystal Reed) arrival in Gotham, while also dealing with a revenge fueled Nygma (Cory Michael Smith).

Gotham was very effective early on. After just introducing a new character in the first couple scenes, I already felt really bad after Ra’s al Ghul pays him a visit. Ra’s al Ghul was definitely the story this week. When you name your episode “The Demon’s Head,” it’s probably a good bet he’ll play a prominent role. While his presence was always hinted at, and you saw him in doses, this was the first episode where he was truly front and center. Even when he does pay the museum curator (Dakin Matthews) a visit, he gives a very Ra’s al Ghul speech. That first scene definitely set the tone for the episode though, in particular for Bruce Wayne.

We’ve been watching Bruce exhibit many Batman qualities all season long. He has gadgets. He did the whole disappearance act to Gordon (always a party favorite). Then last week we saw him portray Matches Malone, and the all-important guise of a spoiled, billionaire playboy. Bruce added another Batman trait to his repute this week – guilt. Bruce takes on a massive amount of guilt.

Gotham has done this before, but they laid it on pretty thick here. First of all, going to the curator and his grandson with this knife should have been a red flag. Alfred (Sean Pertwee) certainly warns him. This was a great arc to watch Bruce go through. Not only do we see his stubborn drive to get answers and keep the knife away from Ra’s al Ghul at all costs, but the story paired him with the curator’s grandson, Alex, as the two form a strong connection.

This leads to the ultimate decision Bruce has to make at the end, which was all sorts of Batman. This was a vintage Batman/Ra’s al Ghul scene that was executed brilliantly, although I’m shocked in how quickly Bruce made his decision.

>While the Bruce/Ra’s al Ghul conflict was superb, it’s always a pleasure seeing Bruce and Gordon together. Ever since season one, they’ve been one of my favorite pairings. This was a whole different ball of wax though as we actually got to see them work together, albeit with a reluctant Gordon.

While the main storyline with this knife generally worked, it still had its warts. The explanation of the knife’s importance was fairly vague. I suppose we could still learn more, but it pretty much just regurgitates stuff about Ra’s al Ghul we already knew. I understand you have to placate to people who may not be as familiar with the Batman mythology, but this was like a Kindergarten Ra’s al Ghul history lesson. Come on! As a quick side note though, his henchmen were wonky and entertaining. That was different.

Speaking of Ra’s al Ghul, while I enjoy him on the show, I’m not completely sold on the actor. Alexander Siddig is fine, but Ra’s al Ghul always has a commanding presence about him. The problem with this iteration is that he feels young and inexperienced. While that’s great for all the other villains on this show, Ra’s al Ghul is the one villain who should be fully formed!  

Even though Ra’s al Ghul was the focus, the best part of the episode, as it has so often been, was Oswald and Nygma. They build off Nygma losing his brain power from last week flawlessly. He’s determined to get back at Oswald, but Oswald can’t even figure out his awful riddles. It all comes to a head when they inevitably meet.  This was perfect, and the ultimate slap in the face to Nygma. Whenever we see the Gotham villains at their lowest point, it’s that much better when they get their mojo back. I’m sure Nygma’s return will be grand.

The only other story of note was Sofia Falcone getting a beginner’s lesson from Oswald on Gotham City. Sofia was an intriguing character introduction from last week. Even though this episode didn’t do much for her, they’ve clearly set her up as the ultimate wild card in Gotham, playing all sides.

While I’m still waiting for the first truly great episode of Gotham this season, “The Demon’s Head” is probably the best so far. Extra credit goes to Ben McKenzie, who wrote this episode. How about Gordon doing double duty, like the good cop that he is.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.